This is our last blog posting for the trip. We can't believe that our 11 months away has come to an end. We have just spent the morning dismantling the bikes and packing them back into the boxes. (These are the same 'quality' boxes that Alastair sourced for us in Vancouver and which have already survived three flights, several taxis and 5 months of storage in different places.)
The last couple of weeks saw us cumatively ascend over 3,000m. On leaving the last of the 'ancient cities' we had a very untouristed ride over 3 days up to Ella at 1,000m above sea level. The route drew us gradually into the hills through paddy fields to tea plantations. Following a couple of days hiking around Ella (and some seiously heavy showers) we put the bikes on the train for the slow but very scenic journey to Nuwara Eliya at 2,000m.
Looking for a guesthouse here took a bit of time as we hadn't prebooked but we came up trumps with a cheap but lovely homestay overlooking the town. The following morning, wearing all the layers we possessed, we were up at 5am for a trip to the evocatively named 'World's End'. It's an 870m cliff at the edge of what to our eyes looked like undulating Scottish moorland. Although beautiful, as with all national parks the entry fee was relatively expensive and together with the car hire we weren't convinced it was worth it given our budget.
Our penultimate destination was Kandy. The 80km cycle was the most scenic we'd experienced in Sri Lanka (and losing 1,500m of altitude was good too!) Cycling into Kandy itself was another matter; the traffic was horrendous. The town is very prettily located as it's surrounded by hills but the roads can't cope with the size of the population. We made the mistake of booking a homestay just outside Kandy without realising that it required a 280m climb over 3kms. That was a bit of a challenge at the end of another hot and humid day!
After a couple of days looking round the town we got on the bikes for the last time for the 110kms to Negombo. This was without doubt the hardest day partly because the first half was on the main road which seemed to be full of smoke-spouting vehicles and singularly bad driving on the part of some bus, truck and tuk-tuk drivers. The second half was lovely and quiet with lots of friendly roadside welcomes but the heat was a real trial over the final 20kms.
So while it will be good to get out of temperatures in the 30s, going home to maximum daily temperatures of 10 degrees will certainly feel a bit extreme. Thanks so much to everyone who has been reading the blog and all who have posted comments. It's been lovely to know that you've been with us in spirit! An advantage of the Offexploring.com blog is that we can get a printed version of it plus the photos and messages to go on the bookshelf next to the one we have from 2009.
We aren't yet sure where we'll settle when we get back as we have decided not to return to Toddington. But we will be in the Milton Keynes area as Fran has a job back at the Open University. We are really looking forward to catching up with those of you in the UK over the next few months.